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Golf Legend Gary Player Reflects on Career, Talks Tiger Woods

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 4, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: This is such a great honor for me to meet you. I've got to tell you.

GARY PLAYER, FORMER PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I appreciate it. It's an honor to meet you. I watch your show a lot, and I love the way you give everybody a chance to say their peace.

HANNITY: Sometimes I'm a little hard on people. But usually, they deserve it, or if I'm very passionate about something.

I love the story, your ambition, first of all, was to be a champion. You wanted to be a champion from a young age. Where did you get that drive? Was it innate?

PLAYER: I don't know where it comes from, whether it's a gift from God that's loaned to you or you're born with it. But you can cultivate it, there's no question.

I had a very difficult youth. My mother died when I was eight. My father worked in a gold mine.

HANNITY: Twelve — twelve feet underground.

PLAYER: Twelve thousand.

HANNITY: Twelve thousand feet underground.

PLAYER: And never made more than 100 pounds a month in his life.

My brother went to war to fight alongside the Americans and the British at 17 years of age. And the day he left, I could see it in bearing. He said, "You want to be an athlete? Promise me you'll practice hard, you'll eat well, and you'll be positive all your life because you've got a lot to be thankful for."

And then he talked about thankful. Coming to this great country, the United States, I am so grateful for what this country has done for me. And if I can contribute in any way, like this book I'm doing now, a lot of it going is back to my charity over here to help underprivileged people. It's just a thrill to be here and to compete in this great country.

HANNITY: But this is something — I'm from a sports family. I grew up — sports was my life growing up. I mean, I have young kids now, and they're very competitive, and they play sports.

And you define choking. You talk about most players have natural ability.

PLAYER: Yes.

HANNITY: Tiger Woods is not the only one out there with a natural ability.

PLAYER: Correct.

HANNITY: But what — what's the difference?

PLAYER: Well, there are only about 12 superstars in the history of the game, hypothetically.

HANNITY: You're one of them.

PLAYER: Well, thank you. And then there are a lot of stars. And there's not even that much difference. It's the mindset. Are you going to be positive? Are you going to have patience?

But the big thing is you've got to learn to accept things in adversity. If it's God's plan that everybody is going to suffer sometime in their life, so take it like a man. And you've got to realize...

HANNITY: I use that phrase a lot. That's a good way to put it. But you know, why did you — when you were coming down the home stretch and you won all those major championships, and 164 tournaments, you had a specific edge that you talk about. You would remind yourself of something.

PLAYER: Well, I said I'd had such a tough youth, coming home, nobody being home except this black gentleman who gave me some spinach and grits. And I said, man — I didn't say "if I'm going to be a champion," I said, "When I'm world champion, the one thing I'm not going to do — I'm not going to be scared to win." And so when I came down that line, I said, "Look, this — I want to win. It will mean a lot to me, but this is not as serious as what I experienced as a young guy. So I'm not going to be scared to win. I'm going to get in there, and if I don't win, I lose. So what?"

HANNITY: You know, I coach my son a little bit, and I say, "Don't play — don't play not to lose; play to win."

PLAYER: Exactly.

HANNITY: And there's a big difference, playing defensively, versus just letting it go and just say, "All right, play." Not that he listens to me all the time, but he was doing a pretty good job.

PLAYER: I'm sure he does. Talking about children, if you don't give your children lots of love, but lots of discipline and get — teach them to have respect — and they're going to sit in front of TV. And 26 percent of American youth are obese. These kids, how are they going to be productive and going to be champions and be — contribute to society?

HANNITY: It's such a great question. You tell some great stories in the book. You tell a story about Arnold Palmer at the height of his career. And he had a six-stroke lead heading into the back nine of the tournament that he lost.

PLAYER: That was the U.S. Open in San Francisco and Billy Casper beat him. But you know, me or Jack Nicklaus, we would have shot for the middle of the green, and we would have won.

HANNITY: But he was going for the flag.

PLAYER: But he was going for the pin and that's how he played. And that's why people loved his style of playing.

HANNITY: Yes, very, very aggressive.

Tiger Woods, you know, I don't even know what else can be said about him. Do you know him? Have you met him? Have you talked to him?

PLAYER: Yes, I've played golf with him, and I've been around him. And he's been — he's been twice as good as anybody else in the last X amount of — ten years, phenomenal.

He's made a big mistake in his life. But Sean, he realizes that. He's said he's sorry. And you know, in the Bible it says you must forgive.

Look at Nelson Mandela in my country. He and I have raised over 20 million bucks for underprivileged youth. He went to jail for 27 years in a cell that's just this big.

HANNITY: Yes.

PLAYER: And he comes out. He has no hatred. No revenge, no bitterness. Loves people. He's a saint, honestly. Every time I'm around him I cry and I say I won't cry. But he's such a saint. Have you seen "Invictus"?

HANNITY: Yes, I have. It's — I have. It's phenomenal.

PLAYER: You've got to see it.

So now — now we come to Tiger, and he says, "I'm sorry." And you know, whether he handled it well or not, everybody has got their own opinion. But he's said he's sorry. I hope he gets his family right.

But we've got to forgive. Go ahead. If he makes a mistake again, well, he's cooked, but he's not going to. Get on with the game and let the man go here.

But people are so critical. And people always want to condemn somebody. I think because they have a guilt of their own. Because everybody — let the man without sin cast the first stone. And I'll tell you what, in a line, there'd be a line of one.

HANNITY: Have you talked to him about this specifically, one-on-one? Have you tried? Have you reached out to him at all?

PLAYER: No, I haven't. I was at the dinner with him this year at Augusta, and it's very difficult to bring that up at that time. So I have not done that.

HANNITY: You know, I do agree with you. I do think — and the sad thing is, at some point this is a matter for him and his family. And the intrusion of the media and everybody talking about it again and again and again.

PLAYER: Never stop.

HANNITY: Well, the point is, how is he ever going to get his family together?

PLAYER: That's right. Well, he was wrong and he knows it. And we all know that.

HANNITY: We all know that.

PLAYER: But I mean, now let him go ahead and now let's get it by and let's go ahead.

HANNITY: And we wish him the best. Gary Player, it's been a great honor to meet you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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